Tuesday, 30 October 2012

‘I don’t make out how important it is or anything’: identity and identity formation by part-time higher education students in an English further education college

an article by Bill Esmond (Chesterfield College, UK) published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training Volume 64 Issue 3 (September 2012)


Policy-makers in England have recently, in common with other Anglophone countries, encouraged the provision of higher education within vocational Further Education Colleges. Policy documents have emphasised the potential contribution of college-based students to widening participation: yet the same students contribute in turn to the difficulties of this provision.

This article draws on a study of part-time higher education students in a college, a group whose perspectives, identities and voices have been particularly neglected by educational research.

Respondents’ narratives of non-participation at 18 indicated the range of social and geographical constraints shaping their decisions and their aspirations beyond higher education; whilst they drew on vocational and adult traditions to legitimate college participation, their construction of identity was also shaped by the boundaries between further education and the university.

These distinctive processes illustrate both possibilities and constraints for future higher education provision within colleges.

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